I’ve always been a sucker for mythical luck-enhancing talismans and the healing powers of gemstones, so it’s no surprise that I’ve accumulated quite a few pieces of the gorgeous Mediterranean Hamsa jewelry. I wear a tiny silver Hamsa as a charm on my silver bracelet, I have an antique-style Turkish Hamsa ring, and my latest buy is this huge silver Hamsa pendant embedded with semi-precious stones (it’s just under 10 cm in length! I love huge statement jewelry pieces).
The Hamsa is not your regular hand. It is a very symmetrical hand that has two mirror-image thumbs at both ends. Many refer to it as a divine hand, an icon that defends against evil. The Hamsa is said to bring good luck, prosperity, fertility and good health, and ward off the evil eye. The evil eye talisman is also very predominant in the Middle East, and many Hamsas have been created to incorporate both where the evil eye is shown in the palm of the Hamsa.
The talisman is used to ward off the ‘evil eye’, the negative energies that come about from negative emotions like jealousy and hatred. Apart from beautifully crafted jewelry, many homes display the Hamsa and evil eye at the entrance to keep the evil forces out.
Historically, the Hamsa is linked to many of the world’s major religions. In Judaism the Hamsa is referred to as ‘Humes Hand’ (a reference to Prophet Moses’s sister Miriam who is a prominent figure in the five books of Judaism). Levantine Christians refer to the Hamsa as the ‘Hand of Mary’, and Anatolia Muslims refer to it as the ‘Hand of Fatima’. Fatima was the daughter of Prophet Mohammed, and the story goes that Fatima was stirring up a hot stew when her husband Ali walked in with another woman. Taken aback, Fatima dropped the spoon and started stirring the hot stew with her hand. The hand then became a symbol of tolerance and good faith. Religious background goes to show the Hamsa is a feminine energy, a talisman from a matriarchal goddess culture. The word ‘Hamsa’ comes from the word ‘khamsa’ in Arabic, the number 5. Five refers to the number of fingers in a hand, and also has religious significance in Islam (the five pillars of Islam, the mandatory five daily prayers).